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The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God's Eyes Hardcover – November 14, 1995
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The thesis of The Purpose Driven Church is that when churches think first about their health, growth is sure to follow. "If your church is healthy," writes Rick Warren, "growth will occur naturally. Healthy, consistent growth is the result of balancing the five biblical purposes of the church." These five purposes are to "Love the Lord with all your heart," "Love your neighbor as yourself," "Go and make disciples," "[Baptize] them," and "[Teach] them to obey." And those purposes can only be accomplished, argues Warren, when church leaders stop thinking about church-building programs and shift their focus to a "people-building process" involving fellowship, discipleship, worship, and evangelism. Warren, the founder of the fastest-growing Baptist church in American history, has taught seminars to thousands of pastors from all over the world, many of whom have successfully implemented his techniques.
From the Back Cover
'The Purpose Driven(R) Church has brought focus and direction to more pastors and church leaders than you can count. What a gift!'---John Ortberg, bestselling author Every church is driven by something. Tradition, finances, programs, personalities, events, seekers, and even buildings can each be the controlling force in a church. But Rick Warren believes that in order for a church to be healthy it must become a purpose-driven church, built around the five New Testament purposes given to the church by Jesus. 'The issue is church health, not church growth!' declares Warren. 'If your church is healthy, growth will occur naturally. Healthy, consistent growth is the result of balancing the five biblical purposes of the church.' Rick Warren shares a proven five-part strategy that will enable your church to grow * warmer through fellowship * deeper through discipleship * stronger through worship * broader through ministry * larger through evangelism The Purpose Driven(R) Church shifts the focus away from church building programs to emphasizing a people-building process. Warren says, 'If you will concentrate on building people, God will build the church.'
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His outline of types of churches is extraordinarily helpful. There are all different types of congregations, from the learning congregation to the praying congregation. In reality, our houses of worship are amalgamations of all sorts of personality types. That being said, we get into trouble when we do not have clarity about who we are, and by what we are driven. Here enters the purpose. To first define our purposes and then to drive with those right up front changes the conversation we're having. No longer do we have to feel like we're keeping up with the congregation down the street. Rather, we can be comfortable in our own skin. We know who we are and why we exist. That gives a new sense of freedom and an ability to be creative.
Warren's book is clearly written, and has lots of great practical advice. What I loved about it was that he brought together lots of different ideas that I have seen echoed in other texts. This would also be a great resource for congregational lay leaders, not just rabbis and pastors.